This morning Daisie and I had to alter our usual walking route as the neighbor was spraying some unknown substance in the field next to ours. It was the better part of valor just to avoid the area. The alternate route brought us closer to the road, and civilization – the possibility of being noticed by the world at large.
This made me conscious of what I was wearing: rubber boots, brown sweats that I had shortened too much, black hoody that has splashes of white paint on it, faded blue fleece vest, and head band over unwashed, unruly hair...Uh, not too pretty.
Immediately I fell into that all too female weakness, comparison. How do those attractive ladies who walk the path in town always look so put together? Even when they are working in their yards, they are dressed in stylish clothing, with matching work gloves...I have the feeling that they get dressed for the day, and wear the same outfit all day – no matter what they are doing!
The same out fit worn all day...what a concept!
I think some of my handicap in the area of clothing comes from growing up on a farm. On a dairy farm you would never get dressed for the day, and wear that same outfit no matter what you were doing! We had Barn Clothes, Everyday Clothes, School Clothes, and Sunday Clothes...and often we wore each one of the categories in a single day.
With all these categories, it sounds as if we had LOTS of clothing, but that was not the case! And it made it all the more necessary to be sure that you changed out of your School Clothes when you got home, to preserve them from unnecessary staining or wear. How many times didn’t we hear Mom say, “Girls! You need to change out of your School Clothes before you get them dirty!”
And there is the crux of the matter: getting dirty.
In our worldview, there were clothes that should never get dirty, and there were clothes that were made for getting dirty...and never the twain shall meet! Woe to the girl who didn’t change into Everyday Clothes before she went out to play, and came back with a grass stain on her School Clothes! She had just reduced her school wardrobe by a third!
And, of course, besides play time, there were plenty of opportunities to get dirty on the farm. Other than School days and Sundays, there was no point in getting hair washed and good clothes on to start the day. You’d probably soon be doing something dirty, manure-y, stinky and sweaty. Barn Clothes were the dregs of our wardrobes, and were suited to this kind of abuse. Often we started the day in clean Barn Clothes, did our work, then showered and changed into Everyday Clothes for work around the house. Later, when Mom decided we should go to town, we changed into School Clothes, which were the equivalent of Town Clothes(or Being-Seen-In-Public Clothes.) When we got home, we changed again into Everyday Clothes, until it was time to do chores. Then the Barn Clothes were donned once again. During evening chores, we wore shower caps to protect our hair from absorbing the barn smell (only partially effective, copious amounts of hairspray were used to cover up any residual smell). Then, it was back to Everyday Clothes for the rest of the evening before bed.
The result of this youthful training is that I cannot choose an outfit based on how it looks. I MUST choose my clothing based on whether it will get dirty, and according to which activity I am involved in.
I know, everyone does that to some extent – but I’ll bet they don’t do it as many times in one day as we Farm Girls do! I have an absolute aversion to wearing Everyday Clothes to work in the yard. If I know I am going to get dirty, I feel I must don the most worn and unappealing clothing that I have (Yard Clothes or Farm Clothes). Then I can safely get as dirty as needed. I’ve been known to change into Cooking Clothes, because I’m kind of messy when I cook. I even have Walking Clothes for Home, and Walking Clothes for Town, because I know I won’t get as dirty in town, as I do around here. I often don’t get in the shower until 10:30 am because I don’t know yet if I’ll be doing something dirty that day...
It’s getting to be a burden, I tell you. I’m tired of changing clothes all the time...It sounds glorious to get ready for the day, put on an outfit and WEAR it, not change it...But to do that, I guess I would have to change my lifestyle, and stop doing so many things that make one dirty. I’m still too much of a Farm Girl for that, and too much of a Dutch Girl to wear Nice Clothes while doing them.